Transformation was a major theme on the local restaurant scene in 2018. Early in the year, the owners of downtown fixture Atlas announced they were remaking the restaurant into the Saint Burch Tavern (named after Burch, the bear who served as the University of Iowa’s mascot at the beginning of the 20th century), and as the year drew to a close, the owner of longtime favorite Devotay announced it would shut its doors on Dec. 31, and reopen as a new restaurant in early 2019.
Between those two announcements, Forbidden Planet became the Dandy Lion and Takanami morphed into a new incarnation of El Patrón. The Iowa City location of the state’s own pizza restaurant chain, Pizza Ranch, moved to a larger location, featuring 1,600 square feet of arcade games. Two public spaces, the Coralville Public Library and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, replaced their longtime food vendors with other local favorites (New Pi Co-op Café and Bread Garden Market, respectively).
There were also notable revivals. The new Goosetown Café brought the folks who used to run Motley Cow Café together in a new venture, and The Red Pepper and The Wedge reintroduced the breakfast The Wedge used to serve when it was downtown.
Along with covering various closings (Zombie Burger), openings (Wild Culture Kombucha) and expansions (Casa Azul), Little Village also took a look back at a long-gone, semi-legendary part of the Iowa City food scene, when someone wrote to Your Village and asked, what was Secret Pizza?